Smit to continue as Springboks skipper
February 20, 2008
World Cup winning captain John Smit will continue as Springbok captain in 2008.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers confirmed Smit's appointment today, having met with the player in South Africa and more recently in France.
"I was very impressed with John and have enormous respect for what he has achieved with the Springboks in the last four years. He is the World Cup-winning captain. He has global respect and he has the desire to add to what was achieved in France last year.
"This is a new chapter for Springbok rugby, but I believe we must build on the success of the World Cup and it made sense to me to further invest in John's excellent leadership and his ability as a player," explained De Villiers.
Smit, who is currently contracted to club rugby in France, said he was thrilled to be a part of the De Villiers era.
"When we met in Cape Town I was encouraged by the coach's desire for success and his passion for South African rugby. To be offered the chance to continue with the Springboks is a challenge I would never refuse. I feel honoured to be given further opportunities to lead the Springboks," said Smit.
De Villiers ideally wants Smit to continue his domestic rugby in South Africa and Smit has agreed to do so provided SA Rugby and his French club Clermont Auvergne can agree on terms and conditions.
"The Springboks will always be my priority but it is important that any move back to South Africa to play domestic rugby, is done in a professional and mature way. The French have been fantastic to me and they understand my desire to play for the Springboks. It is a situation that now will be dealt with on an administrative level between South African rugby and Clermont," added Smit.
"For now my focus is on getting back to match fitness and making a contribution to Clermont's season."
De Villiers said he appreciated the complications of having his captain based in France and for this reason he wanted him back in South Africa.
"We will find the best possible solution in the coming weeks," said De Villiers. "It was important for me to officially confirm the situation, so as to ensure there is no misinformation based on speculation."
De Villiers, who spent the previous two weeks visiting European clubs at which senior Springboks are playing, described the trip as encouraging.
"We must do what is best for Springbok rugby and my intention is to ensure the best available squad is selected. I will explore all avenues for this to happen."